An Easy Way to Mark and Identify Hand-Me-Downs

TitleIf you have children, it is a given that laundry is a big part of your week. I know it has been for us. Of course, as the kids got older, I began to have them take on some laundry chores to help.

Yes, it builds skills and teaches them a good work ethic, but it also helps me out!

Well, one of the problems we have had is identifying whose clothing item belongs to whom. (Sorry, after 21 years of teaching grammar to my kids, I just have to use the “who” and “whom” correctly – it sounds so formal, and you guys know I am not a very formal person!)

Anyway…I had read about so many strategies to remember who gets which clothing item: sewing on colored tags (lots of work), sticking with certain wardrobe colors for each child (not happening), different brands for each child (DEFINITELY not happening), just make mental note as to who gets what (Now you’re just being crazy!).

None of these methods seemed doable to me. We have three boys and a girl. When the oldest outgrew something, it went straight into the drawer of the next boy, then the next, and so on. And when the youngest boy outgrew his clothes, I am not ashamed to say that some of those items ended up in our daughter’s drawers (maybe with some lace added).

I was not about to sew and re-sew different colored ribbon tags, and I knew my mind couldn’t keep track of which child had which shirt, so I needed an easy, inexpensive method of marking their clothes in a way that I could alter the markings as the items passed down from child to child.

Enter my secret weapon:3

Yes, a simple Sharpie marker. I mark a single black dot on the tags of my oldest son’s clothes (even the toes of the socks). Then when an item gets passed down to the next child, I add a second dot. The third child has three dots on his tags, and the fourth child has four dots. No re-sewing or elaborate buying plans necessary!


I keep another marker in the laundry room to re-mark any tags that become faded, but that is all I do. No step-by-step program. No expensive materials. Just dots on the tags. And if my third son gets a new shirt for a birthday or Christmas, I just put three dots straight onto the tag. Everyone will know it is his. For shirts that have no tags, I try to find a hidden spot on the inside seams (unless it’s a white shirt). And that’s it. It takes care of 99% of our problems.

No more comments like, “You are wearing my shirt again!” or “Mom, all my shorts are missing!”

So with the sorting out of the way, we can get down to business and defeat the Huns finish folding the laundry.

I hope this is helpful to you – or at least a bit entertaining. Have a great day!